For a week after the Atlantic City Marathon, I ran very little, and ate like a lunatic. On the following saturday, I went out to try an easy two hour run to see if I had recovered. It went very well, and at that point, I decided to give the JFK 50, scheduled seven weeks later, a shot. I realized that if I didn't expect to run the entire race, I could just maintain the same training I had done for the marathon, with the inclusion of a few extraordinary longer runs, and that should get me to the starting line ready to give it a shot. My research on the JFK told me that my finish time should end up in the range of doubling my marathon time and adding two hours. That would get me in around 8:22, which would qualify me to run in the Western States 100 mile run (40-44 year age group qualifying time in 1994 was 9:30). Deb and I traveled to Boonsboro to a hotel, and got up at 4 a.m. to be ready for the 5:30 start. One of the unique features of this race, is that your support staff has a scavenger like hunt to find you at only 8 possible places. Deb of course, hit them all on the dot and kept me fueled and hydrated. A lot of participants had people on mountain bikes with coolers along with them, and there were 5 fully staffed aid stations on the course. The first picture is of me getting ready at the start. Those shoes I am tying ended up in pieces by race end.
The course starts in town and then climbs four miles up gravel roads onto the apalachian trail. I was smart and warmed up with walks and jogs until I got on the trail. The weather was exceptional, sunny and cool, and I went very easy for ten miles on the trail until reaching the 14 mile mark, where you do a one mile switchback down to a large park where deb got her first chance to meet me. After fueling up, you are escorted in small groups across a freeway, and start a full marathon on a tow path trail. This is the nicest part of the race....flat, smooth, and with most of the support tables. A younger guy came up behind me and asked if I wanted company, and we talked and ran well together for about twenty miles. At that point I hit my first wall, and did a few walk/jogs to try and regroup. As I was passing a field right before meeting Deb at the 35 mile mark, I saw a herd of Llama being walked and trained, and when I told deb a few minutes later, she assured me that she had seen them too and that I was not hallucinating. I fueled well at mile thirty five and had a strong seven miles to the 42 mile mark where you leave the tow path and finish on the roads. Deb met me at the chow line hammering down cookies, M&M's, and some hot chicken broth, and gave me my drinks. We walked and talked for a half mile up a hill, and then she sent me on my way.
The last eight miles of road was a constant rolling up and down hills. After about two miles, I began to struggle badly and had to walk the uphills and jog the downhills. I did this for about 4 miles. This was bye far the worst patch of the race. The picture of me is from deb getting out of the car at around 46 miles. I was trying to lift my fingers to my head to simulate shooting myself.
With two miles to go, I got my final wind and was able to run the full last two miles, with a really horrid impersonation of a sprint on the last half mile on a side street to the high school finish. There was an announcer reading off finisher names, ages, and where they were from, and he found it highly amusing that I was from a place called "Painesville". Didn't seem in any way funny to me. I had finished in a western states qualifying time of 8:22:48, within a minute of my estimated time, 61st out of 622 starters.
Deb and I milled around for a half hour, and then she started the drive home, with another nice mcdonalds stop for big macks and shakes. At every hour, I thought about more folks finishing. 5 Hours later as we were heading into ohio from pennsylvania, I knew that the final fourteen hour cut off was coming, and there would be some DNF's with very sad stories to tell. I also began thinking about that western states 100 miler coming the following spring. But, due to back problems and surgery, and other life complications and distractions, it just never came.......